When the Weyburn Red Wings were in town on Sept. 21, some familiar faces were lined up against the hometown Yorkton Terriers.
The Red Wing’s Nick Pouliot, Donavon Lumb and Logan Herchak all played for the Yorkton Harvest in the SMAAAHL last year.
Herchak graduated from the midget ranks last year, so it was expected he would join Weyburn this season. With the Harvest, the Regina native made a dent on the score sheet in his rookie and only season, scoring 16 goals and 38 points in 43 games. It seems he has the potential to post similar numbers in Junior A down the road, but to start he’s going to play a limited role in Weyburn.
“Logan is starting out as our third or fourth-line centre, but we see some good potential in him to move up,” said Red Wings head coach Bryce Thoma. “He has some talent and knows how to make plays.”
Pouliot could have returned to the Harvest as a 17 year old this year, but with his 6-foot, 185-pound frame and two years of AAA midget experience, the writing was on the wall that he’d join the Red Wings.
“We felt he was ready for the league after two years in AAA,” said Thoma. “He is a bigger player with some good skill. He makes plays out there and looks like he’s ready to make an impact.”
Besides Pouliot’s talent and work ethic, the Red Wings head coach finds his leadership characteristics enticing.
“He’s a mature player already,” said Thoma on the former Harvest team captain. “We want him to feel confident out there and get used to this league. But he has some attributes that make him a guy that we feel could be a leader for us.”
Lumb was far from a lock to make the Red Wings; however, following impressing Thoma at camp, the head coach decided he was ready to make the jump at 17 years old.
“Donavon had a good camp,” he said. “He works hard out there and is a grittier forward. And I don’t think he gets enough credit for his skill. He works the puck well in a lot of situations and makes some smart plays.”
For Lumb and Pouliot, playing for the Red Wings means they got to move back to their hometown.
“It’s great to have local guys on the team,” said Thoma. “They grew up watching this team and it’s a bit more special for them.”
The Red Wings are one of the younger teams in the SJHL this year. They have four 17-year-olds, including their goalie Rylan Parenteau, and nine 18-year-olds. Thoma, however, doesn’t feel his club is in the midst of a rebuild; he believes Weyburn’s hockey operations staff just threw age out the door in their process of deciding who would stick with the team.
“I wouldn’t say we’re a rebuilding team,” said the head coach. “We just took the best players at camp regardless of their age. It didn’t matter if they were 17 or 20, we just took the best players to help this team win. That ultimately meant that some 19 and 20 year olds were cut over younger players. That won’t change next year or the year after that; we are going to continue to take the best players available.”